Winter work

Cutting wood in the valley close to La Tarais Gites

Now the Breton countryside has taken on the look of deep winter the sound of birds has been replaced by the whirring of chain-saws. It’s wood time again and nobody takes this more seriously than the folk in these parts it seems.

The Bretons often say that wood heats you three times and they are not joking. Once when you cut it, once when you transport/stack it and once when you finally burn it. The winter obsession doesn’t stop here though. Using the right method to stack your wood and getting it nice and orderly is a grand competition. Take a look when you are over in the summer at some of the great jobs people have made of this art.

Most homes here, even new ones, have wood burners of some description or another to boost the general warmth and cosines needed during the long winters. It’s also much cheaper than electricity or gas of course. We generally order our wood during the summer months when our supplier is less busy and we leave the pile to dry out for a month or so before stacking it ready for the winter. An order of 2 cords (1 cord of wood is the equivalent of about three cubic metres) is enough to get us through the winter with a little to spare. We do have some electric heating and we are busy all day so only use the wood burner in the evenings.

When the time comes to clean the glass on your wood burner I have one final tip. Don’t use chemical sprays, they are a waste of time and money and never do the job very well. Get a bowl of hot water and some kitchen roll. Dip a piece of kitchen roll in the hot water, then into the ash in the wood burner and rub the glass. It’ll be as clean as a whistle in no time flat. Good for the environment and as cheap as chips.

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